Yesterday was Palm Sunday. The day that Jesus enters Jerusalem heralded as the coming King. The people come out and welcome him in, laying palm branches down before him and declaring Hosanna! Hosanna! Jesus comes in to take his place as the heir of David’s throne. It is one of the high points of Passion week. A day of joy and celebration. A day longing for the consummation of the Kingdom, the time when God will make all things new and right.
Yet unlike those original participants that were taking place in the celebration, we know the rest of the story. We know that the Kingdom does come but not in the way that many expected. We know that Jesus will sit on David’s throne, but he conquers not with sword and spear but by suffering and death. We know that God is making all things new, but the final consummation is still in the future when God recreates the Heavens and the Earth. Because even though Jesus is heralded as King on Sunday, by Friday he will be crucified. By Friday the same crowds that shouted “Hosanna, Hosanna” will shout “crucify, crucify!” By Friday Jesus will fully embody the role of Suffering Servant, and Jesus will join us in our own suffering and pain in a way that only a loving God can. Jesus will embody our suffering and pain in a way that will ultimately redeem it and restore it. We know the joy of Palm Sunday will quickly end.
But we also know the joy of Palm Sunday will be restored. We know that Jesus will be crowned King. We know that even though on Friday it looked like the great plan of God had been thwarted, that actually God’s plan was being accomplished. We know that part of the way God will recreate the earth is through erasing the curse of death. And we know that on Easter Sunday the tomb will be empty. And that even though the crowds will not declare it, the angels will with all their might, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna to the son of David!”
So how should we as believers approach this week? Here are some thoughts.
1. Celebrate the King: The declaration of Jesus as Messiah on Palm Sunday was real. Even though it didn’t work the way the people thought, the irony is Jesus is still Messiah. And Jesus is the heir of David’s throne. Celebrate that truth this week. Live life with joy because the Messiah has come; the Messiah reigns on the throne. Even though the world doesn’t recognize it yet Jesus is Lord of all and we get to be witnesses of that truth. Live it out with abandon and joy this week.
2. Remember our sinfulness: Not in a way that is self-deprecating. Don’t remember your sin as a “woe is me” state of affairs. Remember instead that we should be dead but with God there is forgiveness. Spend this week waiting in hope for the rising of the Son on Easter morning. Spend this week waiting in hope that one day all will be made right, that God will recreate the Heavens and the Earth and Satan’s work will be undone. Wait in hope that a day is coming when the world will be renewed and God will once again have fellowship with his people in the Garden of Life, and we will eat from the tree of life and drink from the spring of water coming from the throne of God.
3. Find Life in the Resurrection: The good news is not that our sins are forgiven because of what Jesus did during Passion Week. Yes, our sins are forgiven, but that is not the complete story. The Good News is that the resurrection gives us a new identity. The Good News is that the resurrection points to the truth that God brings life out of death. The Good News is that even though it appears the world is a disaster God will come and suffer with us to the point that God makes all things new. Death is not the end. One day all will be restored; all will be made new. Long for that day. Live for that day. Allow Easter Morning to be a sign of the future reality of the New Heaven and New Earth. Just as the tomb is empty God will redeem and restore all of creation to a point where God will once again say, “It is very good.”
May these thoughts guide us this week as we celebrate New Life!